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Alabama Bookshelf: September

In this periodic feature, we highlight books either about Alabama people or events or written by Alabama authors. Summaries are not reviews or endorsements. We also occasionally highlight book-related events. Email submissions to bookshelf@alabamaliving.coop.


Poles, Wires and War: The Remarkable Untold Story of Rural Electrification and the Vietnam War

by Ted Case, $15.95 (history)

During one of the hardest chapters in American history, electric co-ops volunteered to win the war in Vietnam. They didn’t win the war, but in his new book, the author tells a riveting story of how they tried. He argues that the success electric co-ops had in the conflict that divided our nation just might have helped that southeast Asian nation recover more quickly by demonstrating the value of bringing electricity to the countryside.

What followed was a classic battle of enormous personalities, foreign and domestic political and military maneuvering, and a determined band of people who brought electricity to the American countryside, fighting the odds to bring light to a war zone halfway around the world.

Case creates a fast-paced narrative as crews race the collapsing war to pass bylaws, organize the co-ops and tangle with corruption, bureaucracy, in-fighting, and oh yes, Viet Cong soldiers determined to destroy what they were creating. In the end, in less than four years, three electric co-ops were bringing electricity to more than 8,000 members.

Order online at TedCaseAuthor.com.


Here We May Rest: Alabama Immigrants in the Age of HB 56

by Silvia Giagnoni, NewSouth Books, $29.95 (current events)

Alabama’s 2011 Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act, also known as HB 56, sought to criminalize the lives of undocumented immigrants. The law triggered lawsuits and brought widespread criticism; federal courts later gutted much of the bill.

Author Giagnoni, herself an immigrant, wrote the book to explore the needs and relationships of others who shared the experience of immigration. She frames the bill in larger political, social and cultural contexts to help explain the current sentiments toward new immigrants in Alabama.


Once in a Blue Moon

by Vicki Covington, John F. Blair, Publisher, $26.95 (novel)

Against the background of Barack Obama’s 2008 election campaign, a group of struggling individuals are thrown together, tenants of a benevolent landlord in a Birmingham, Ala., neighborhood that has seen better days. The neighbors form their own brand of community, lifting each other up and bringing hope for a better future back into their lives.

The author, who grew up in Birmingham, asks questions about family, faith, race, class, and ultimately, hope.


The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry: Auburn Vs. Georgia

by Douglas Stutsman, Arcadia Publishing and The History Press, $21.99 (Southern sports history)

The rivalry between Auburn University and the University of Georgia began in 1892 and has largely been a competition more brotherly than bitter. According to one legend, Auburn’s “War Eagle” battle cry originated at the first game between the two schools. Renowned UGA coach Vince Dooley graduated from Auburn, while Auburn coach Pat Dye was an All-American at UGA.

Journalist Stutsman recounts the unforgettable games, moments and personalities on the 125th anniversary of the Deep South’s oldest rivalry.